The Importance Of Data Models

The importance of data modeling cannot be overstated. Data constitute the most basic information units employed by a system. Applications are created to manage data and to help transform data into information. But data are viewed in different ways by different people. For example, contrast the (data) view of a company manager with that of a company clerk. Although the manager and the clerk both work for the same company, the manager is more likely to have an enterprise-wide view of company data than the clerk

Even different managers view data differently. For example, a company president is likely to take a universal view of the data because he or she must be able to tie the company’s divisions to a common (database) vision. A purchasing manager in the same company is likely to have a more restricted view of the data, as is the company’s inventory manager. In effect, each department manager works with a subset of the company’s data. The inventory manager is more concerned about inventory levels, while the purchasing manager is more concerned about the cost of items and about personal/business relationships with the suppliers of those items

Applications programmers have yet another view of data, being more concerned with data location, formatting, and specific reporting requirements. Basically, applications programmers translate company policies and procedures from a variety of sources into appropriate interfaces, reports, and query screens.

The different users and producers of data and information often reflect the “blind people and the elephant” analogy: the blind person who felt the elephant’s trunk had quite a different view of the elephant from the one who felt the elephant’s leg or tail. What is needed is a view of the whole elephant. Similarly, a house is not a random collection of rooms; if someone is going to build a house, he or she should first have the overall view that is provided by blueprints. Likewise, a sound data environment requires an overall database blueprint based on an appropriate data model.

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